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Jeremy Jeffress’ agent gives insight into team-friendly deal

Jeffress has a unique relationship with the Brewers and Milwaukee, and it turned into a unique contract negotiation, according to Joshua Kusnick

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Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

This past winter, the Brewers avoided arbitration with reliever Jeremy Jeffress by signing him to a one-year, non-guaranteed deal for $1.75 million that included two team options for $3.175 million and $4.3 million.

While Jeffress could still earn up to $2.2 million in additional incentives every year, it’s still an extremely team-friendly deal for a player that was arbitration-eligible. It turns out that’s because the contract offer was also an ultimatum -- either sign it, or you’re non-tendered.

Jeffress’ agent, Joshua Kusnick, is an active member of social media and the Brewers online community and shed some more light on how those negotiations went down in the days leading up to the non-tender deadline:

Kusnick has been outspoken this winter about the possibility of collusion on the free agent market, so it’s interesting to see that he already had fears about his client going into the free agent market even before it was clear it was going to be a slow winter.

While he admits it wasn’t a great deal for his client, he’s also realistic in that Jeffress likely would not have been able to get a similar deal in free agency.

As Tom Haudricourt recently noted in a story about Jeffress, for whatever reason, the right-hander has performed better for the Brewers than he has anyone else in his career, with a career 2.56 ERA in 176 innings in Milwaukee, as opposed to a 4.76 ERA in 96.1 innings everywhere else.

Other teams likely would’ve noticed that, too, and making millions would’ve been out of the question if he was one of the many relievers trying to find work this winter. Jeffress himself noticed it and told Haudricourt that’s why he was willing to gamble on himself:

“I know I’ve done much better here with other teams. That’s why I wanted to come back. It was a tough winter for a lot of guys but I wanted to come back to Milwaukee if at all possible. I know my contract is not guaranteed but if I do what I know I can do, it will all fall into place.”

Whether or not the Brewers end up picking up those options remains to be seen, and likely depends on what kind of role Jeffress ends up filling this year. He’s had a good start to the spring, and Craig Counsell has routinely mentioned him as one of the six relievers essentially guaranteed a spot in a crowded bullpen.

Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference